Lives and/as Performance

‘All the world’s a stage.
And all the men and women merely players’
Jacques, As You Like It, Act II, Sc. VII (William Shakespeare)

Metaphors of life as a ‘stage’, people as ‘players’ assuming social ‘roles’ have long roots, but what are their implications for understanding individuals or social groups? How can they challenge the ways in which historians, biographers and social researchers interpret and represent lives in the past? This experimental and cross disciplinary workshop explores performance theory and method as applied to history and life writing.

Since the late sixties, the performative turn in the humanities and social sciences has grown increasingly influential. Performative approaches not only offer a means of understanding performance as a social activity but as a framework for re-thinking the social-self relationship, illuminating dynamics of social action through interaction, and inviting reflection on the production of social knowledge.

Drawing on a range of creative approaches and featuring contributions from professional actors and artistic practitioners, this workshop will explore performance theory, method and practice. Responding closely to participant’s research, it will offer a shared stage to reflect and explore the conception and application of performance in the writing of lives.

Costs: Free. 12 postgraduate student places are available.

Applicants should submit a 150-word statement about how they feel their research intersects with the idea of performance. Some travel funds are available for postgraduate students.


Date & time

Thu 11 Oct 2018, 10am – Fri 12 Oct 2018, 4pm


McDonald Room, Menzies Library


National Centre of Biography


Dr Sophie Scott-Brown


Updated:  31 July 2018/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications